Traders in Inishowen are expecting a very good Christmas.In fact, not only are they expecting the local shoppers to stay local they are also anticipating quite a lot of Cross-Border trade.

Speaking with the Journal yesterday Neil Doherty (Roe), of the Buncrana Chamber of Commerce, said the differential between sterling and the euro was ensuring that not only were people from Inishowen not heading for Derry in any substantial numbers but more and more northerners were heading into Buncrana, Carndonagh and other towns and villages in the peninsula to avail of the purchasing power of their pound.

Mr Doherty said yesterday: “The town has been very busy in recent weeks. I have talked to quite a lot of the local traders and they are all reporting brisk business. Sales are definitely up.”

Pointing out that Buncrana had always been extremely competitive - ‘we have had to be, we are so close to Derry’, he explained - Mr. Doherty said prices for goods in Inishowen were now, possibly, the cheapest anywhere in the country.

“Right now we have shops here offering up to 30% on sterling. That is a massive plus for anyone coming out from the north.But the local shopper will also find that we are more than competitive with anything that can be found in the north.”

The chamber spokesperson said the ‘Buncrana voucher’ scheme had been a great success in that many people now gave them as a present at Christmas which was a great way to keep custom in the town.

And, he added, a lot of people had been saving regularly in the Credit Union specifically to have money to spend over the festive season.

The only downside is, according to Mr Doherty, the reluctance of people to spend.

He commented: “Right now people are scared to spend. They don’t know what is coming down the track in this budget. And the uncertainity on the employment front is another factor - when you are not sure what is happening you are scared to take risks.”

However, another businessman, who didn’t want to be named, wasn’t so sure about the whole issue of Derry-Donegal trade.

He commented: “I have a business in Derry and Inishowen. This morning I had two major sales in Derry - one man was from Malin Head and the other was also from Inishowen.The business I have in Donegal is every bit as cheap - maybe even cheaper -but people still want to come to the city for the bigger variety.”